Every year for over 30 years, L’Occitane has sourced organic, fair-trade shea butter from five cooperatives in Burkina Faso, which bring together over 10,000 women. During the current pandemic, L’Occitane is providing these women with the tools they need to tackle the health crisis.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Burkina Faso put in place strict measures, which disrupted the end of the shea nut harvest. To protect the health of its partners, the group has stopped all activities that involve groups of people coming together. It has also pushed some of its delivery dates back to the autumn, while making 80% advance payments for these orders to maintain producers’ cash flow.
The group has also received an additional $54.7 thousand from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, one of L’Occitane’s financial partners, to help protect these workers from COVID-19.
The additional money is intended to help Burkinabe women producers fight COVID-19 on the ground. The support for women shea butter producers is made up of three core activities, which are carried out by L’Occitane employees and its local partner, the NGO Nitidae: raising awareness of shielding measures; distributing protective equipment and supplies; and reducing the economic impact of the pandemic.
To raise awareness and educate people about the virus, the group deployed a poster campaign, informative adverts on local radio and voice messages sent to the phones of shea nut harvesters and producers.
L’Occitane has also been providing soap and masks for 8,500 women as well as for their local health centers, installing washbasins in shea production centers and in community health centers, stockpiling masks and providing managers of shea butter production centers with training on hygiene measures.
To reduce the economic impact of the pandemic, protective equipment and supplies are being made locally – without affecting supplies for healthcare workers across the country. This also provides new sources of revenue: the soap is made by the women’s cooperatives, while the washbasins and masks are produced by local craftspeople.